CONTACT THE MUSEUM     

BECOME A FACEBOOK MEMBER 

 
  ERC > LEXICON OF THE YIDDISH THEATRE  >  VOLUME 5  >  BEN ZION MICHTAM


Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre
BIOGRAPHIES OF THOSE WHO WERE ONCE INVOLVED IN THE Yiddish THEATRE;
aS FEATURED IN zALMEN zYLBERCWEIG'S  "lEKSIKON FUN YIDISHN TEATER"


VOLUME 5: THE KDOYSHIM (MARTYRS) EDITION, 1967, Mexico City

 


 

Ben Zion (Bentsye) Michtam
 

 


Born in 1908 in Vilna, Polish/Lithuania. He received a folk school education. He was an autodidact graphic artist. A member of the painterís group in "Young Vilna" and a co-worker in the puppet theatre "Meydim." He was also the project leader of puppets and decorations. According to Yechiel Bergenóhe occupied a significant and important position in the Vilna artistic family. He was killed in 1941 by those who searched for and grabbed Jews in the ghettos at the start of the German/Soviet war. This was in 1941 in Vilna before the Jews of Vilna were driven into the ghetto.

Sh. Kacerginski wrote:

Michtam was taken away in the days of the provocations at number 3 Strashun Steet, where he had resided for many years. From there he was transported to Ponar. His mother, who was in bed with an unhealed wound on her amputated foot, was also thrown onto a moving car and had the same ending as her son.

Michtamís brother, Dovid, a carpentry worker, was also captured by those who grabbed Jews, ending up in Ponar in 1941. His wife, Etta Miransky. survived.

Yosef Fray in a review about the "Meydim Theatre" wrote:

"Therefore the puppets of the artists B. Michtam, which were so beautifully executed, simple and impressive must not be forgotten." In 1937 M. painted the decorations for Jonas Turkowís presentation of Razumenís comedy "Motke Habad."

Herman Kruk in his diary from the Vilna Ghetto describes (25 July, 1942): "The evening undertaken by 'Young Vilna' was received with great success. Two hundred people were present. The evening was devoted to a display of drawings, pictures and reproductions from the painterís group. Among those whose work was on display was Bentzi Michtam and Rochel Sutzkever." And in the speech given by Kruk at the event, he commented on "Bentzi Michtam who displayed his work far and wide at shows in Warsaw and Paris and received positive attention for them."

Yosef Sandel wrote:

"Among the large masses of people in the Vilna population, Ben Zion Michtam was particularly admired. He was a graphic artist and self-taught. Everything he created was simple, rough and proletariat. His works looked like instruments that require verification in order to understand their functions. Michtamís graphic illustrations were picturesque and represented, as with many other young artists, a moment of exaltation."

Michtam also illustrated Moshe Levinís books and worked on projects and on book covers for other Yiddish books. He took part in the presentation of Jewish ceramicists in Vilna. He also had a show in Bialystok in 1939óon the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of Yiddish ceramicists in Warsaw.

In the general presentation by Michtam, for the first time in 1940 in Vilna where he displayed five of his works, his were received with great enthusiasm for their realism. Michtam did not belong to those so-called artists who merely copied the other stylistic artists. His works were clear, free and prosaic.

His nature was mild, and it demands that he be understood. He was on the brink of achieving even higher artistic acceptance. Michtam was one of Hitlerís first human sacrifices. He was dragged out of his room on Strashun Street to to the Ponar forest where along with hundreds of other Jews he was shot."
 

Sh.E. from Yekhiel Burgin.

  • Joseph Frey -- Der vilner marionetn-teater "meydim," "Literarisher bleter," Warsaw, N' 25, 1935.

  • Joseph Sandel-- "Umgekumene yidishe kinstler," Warsaw, 1957, Vol. 2, pages 198.

  • Herman Kruk -- "Togbukh fun vilner geto," New York, 1961, pp. 319, 322, 324.

 

 

 


 

Home       |       Site Map       |      Exhibitions      |      About the Museum       |       Education      |      Contact Us       |       Links


Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 5, page 4339.

Translationm courtesy of Paul Azaroff.
 

Copyright ©  Museum of Family History.  All rights reserved.